Taiwan reunification with China 'inevitable', says Xi Jinping

China's President Xi Jinping attends a welcome ceremony for German President Frank Walter Steinmeier in Beijing

China's President Xi Jinping attends a welcome ceremony for German President Frank Walter Steinmeier in Beijing

On Wednesday, Xi advocated for peaceful unification of the two sides and said the "private assets, religions, and beliefs and legitimate rights of the people in Taiwan will also be fully guaranteed".

"We are firmly against those who conspire behind the ideo of "Two China", or "One China-One Taiwan", or Taiwan Independence", Xi said in a part of his first major speech addressing the people of what Beijing considers a breakaway province.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, when Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists lost to Mao Zedong's Communists.

In his speech, Xi Jinping said Taiwan's unification with the mainland is "inevitable" and warned against any efforts to promote the island's independence.

In the wake of Xi's speech, Tsai reiterated these points and called on China to "bravely take steps towards democracy", implying that while she remains president, Taiwan would not be reunited with China under a "one country, two systems" framework. He called for efforts to foster wide-ranging "democratic consultation" between representatives from both sides and deepen integrated development across the Taiwan Strait, saying that "Chinese people should help each other".

Referring to November's local elections in Taiwan, Tsai said that the result was not tantamount to the Taiwanese people surrendering their sovereignty, and that it also doesn't mean that Taipei is ready to make major concessions to Beijing.

Last year, Taiwan's ruling party suffered a massive defeat in mid-term polls, causing Tsai to resign as leader of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, while the main opposition Kuomintang, which oversaw an unprecedented thaw with Beijing before Tsai took office in 2016, made gains.

"Foreign interference is intolerable", Xi said, adding that Beijing "will not promise to renounce the use of force". In the past year or so, the Communist government has increased its pressure on multinational companies to refer to Taiwan as a part of China.

Xi sought to reassure people in Taiwan that there was nothing to fear from Chinese rule, even though most people there have shown no interest in being run by autocratic Beijing.

These "musts", she said, form the "most basic and most key foundation for the positive development of relations between Taiwan and China".

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivers a speech during a New Year's day press conference in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 1, 2019.

The Chinese president's urging for the two to come to the table came during a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the "Message of Compatriots in Tawain" when, on January 1, 1979, China offered to open up communications and stop military action against the island.

The speeches set the stage for a 2020 presidential election in which Tsai is expected to be challenged by the resurgent KMT along with a potential bid by independent Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je.

"I want to remind Beijing that the worldwide community is also waiting to see whether China is willing to become a trustworthy partner or not".

Ding Shuh-fan, an global relations expert at Taiwan's National Chengchi University, told DW it is the first time a Chinese president has laid out concrete proposals regarding the "one country, two systems" model. At the same time, the worldwide relations expert says, Chinese authorities are wary of the US' role in the region, which they believe could embolden Taiwan's pro-independence groups.

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